Tension forges transformation

Updated: Jan 2

The Whole Person Blog: Week One, Day Four - Tension forges transformation

Writings inspired by Seth Godin: What to Do When It's Your Turn (and It's Always Your Turn) Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

I was recently invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with Seth Godin. If interested, I had to submit a one minute video sharing my experience with Seth's work and the impact it's had on my life. The challenge, of course, was I only had one minute. How can you possibly sum up ten years of reading his daily blog, reading twenty of his books and various articles, and taking three of his online courses in just one minute? You can't, and this constraint is what invites beauty into each. The point of restricting the video to one minute was to create tension. A word from Seth on tension:

"In search of a quick resolution (or no resolution)

Resolution relieves tension, and we've been taught that tension is a bad thing.

And so, we want to know, and soon, how we're doing. We want the novel to end and the hero to win and the next story to show up on our news feed. We want, most of all, for the silence to end.

The silence used to be precious; it used to be at the heart of our joy and humanity. The silence of a father and son, walking down the beach. The silence of sitting and wondering. The silence of what happens next?

It's been replaced by the cheap thrill of 'what happens now?'

Instead of basking in the tension, waiting for the reviews to come in, or the feedback to happen, we push forward, insisting that we get it quicker. A newspaper is too slow, the TV news is too slow, we need to monitor Twitter to see it first.

To end the tension.

Most everything wonderful works because the tension is part of it.

How much is it worth it to you to release the tension, right now? What happens to your work if you're able to wait a little longer?"

Tension is a complex combination of memories, narratives, emotions, sensations, and perceptions. It goes something like this: Should I apply? Fear (heart rate increases). What if I get rejected? Anxiety (palms getting sweaty). If I got accepted, what can I even contribute? Doubt (heaviness). All of my past experiences of rejection tell me to avoid the risk. Shame (shrinking). If I don't apply, I'll never know. Guilt (stomach in knots). No, they only chose me because I've picked myself first. Pride (flow). You get the point--and YES, I subconsciously went through all of these mental gymnastics within 30 seconds.

The root of this entire thought process was driven by my Identity Crisis, confusing past experiences of pain, rejection, and suffering for my infinitely unlimited Identity, which always operates as a clean slate, undefined by previous encounters. Ultimately, I recognized it was my false self choosing to define itself by outcomes outside of its control. Dang control is always at the root of our problems! Once I connected this dot, I asked: How would the YESness inside of me express itself in this situation? Well, here's the answer to that question: The beauty of it all, really, is the tension, and the willingness to walk into it, on purpose, despite the risk--that's transformation!

Whether or not I make the cut isn't the point because I'm already successful. That breath I just took and the next one I'm about to take, that's my prosperity. The effort I exert to express my original goodness, that's my victory. I am the good news, and if I do attend the meeting, that'll just be the icing on the cake.

"Great work is the result of seeking out tension, not avoiding it. Great work doesn't require reassurance, in fact, it avoids it." Seth Godin



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